Making sure everyone feels welcome and included in your workplace, and has an easy time navigating around it can be key to your business’s image and success. One of the most basic, yet impactful things you can do to improve the accessibility to your business is installing ramps, so that the entry and exit points do not feel like an obstacle for the mobility impaired. A more accessible business premises means more customers, but also a safer workspace for all. This way, everyone feels like they’re a part of your business, and know that you’re taking their needs into consideration.
The first step to making a building more accessible starts at the initial point of contact people have with it – the entryway. The most common way to make a building’s entryway more accessible is with a wheelchair-accessible ramp.
Types of Wheelchair Ramps
If portability is something you need from a ramp, then a folding wheelchair ramp probably the ideal choice. You can choose between bi-fold or tri-fold ramps that have hinges on each panel to help them fold up. A portable wheel chair ramp is mainly used for personal purposes, and you can even set it up over a small set of stairs. But keep in mind that folding ramps do not have handrails.
Suitcase ramps are another type of portable ramp is the which is quite similar to the folding ramp. It folds just like folding ramps, but it’s also equipped with handles to make it easy to carry around. Suitcase ramps are for people who want the added convenience of carrying the ramp around easier.
With a telescopic ramp, you get two separate channels with each being around 30cm wide. These channels can extend and retract so that they can fit a certain height, making them extremely versatile. While these ramps can support a wheelchair, they aren’t meant to be used for mobility scooters.
A threshold ramp is the simplest form of ramps as they are a single- or dual-piece ramp that rises enough to make it easy for someone to go over a ledge. These ramps can be made of either metal or rubber, and they are extremely lightweight and can be placed on both the outside and inside of a doorway.
If you require a larger, more permanent solution, then you should consider getting a modular ramp. These ramps do not require a building permit and can be disassembled and relocated too. However, installing and disassembling one requires a fair amount of time and effort.
With a permanent ramp, you get a fixture made of wood or concrete that cannot be adjusted or moved to another place. This means that you’ll require a building permit for it.
If you need a temporary solution for both wheelchairs and scooters where only one or two steps are in the way, then you should consider getting a pathway wheel chair ramp. These ramps often come with non-slip surfaces to promote safety.
If you want a wheelchair ramp for a van or a truck, then you should get a vehicle ramp. This type of ramp is made specifically for the use with wheelchair accessible vans and busses. You can use these ramps for both scooters and wheelchairs as long as you get one with two channels or a single channel model with a broader width.
How to Calculate Ramp Length for Wheelchair
Calculating the length of a ramp is done by measuring the total rise, or what is known as the distance from the lower level to the upper level of the ramp. Then, this measurement is divided by the slope angle of the ramp and you get the recommended length of a ramp. This is also known a the gradient of a ramp. Usually, a ramp that is 1900mm long needs a gradient of a maximum of 1:14, but some people recommend a 1:20 gradient ratio.
How Wide Does a Wheelchair Ramp Need to Be?
While the width of a curved ramp needs to be at a minimum of 1500mm, a ramp that goes in a straight line needs to have at least 1000mm width.
Other Factors to Consider for Ramp Safety
You need to factor in the fact that some people might need handrails which need to be from 30 to 50mm in diameter for a minimum of 270°. Handrails also need to extend for at least 300mm past the bottom and top of a ramp. The height of handrails needs to be anywhere between 865 and 1000mm above floor level.
The ramp needs to have tactile ground surface indicators beneath it. The setback of a ramp needs to be at a minimum of 900mm at the boundary of the property and a minimum of 400mm at an internal corridor. Ramps should not be steeper than 1:10 and no longer than 1900mm. On the other hand, a kerb ramp shouldn’t be steeper than 1:8 and it shouldn’t be longer than 1520mm. Threshold ramps shouldn’t be steeper than 1:20.
All ramps should have landings and rest areas with included seating, as well as shade or shelter if they’re outside. Kerbs should be present at both sides and the identification of a ramp should include signage or colours that help users determine their location more easily. The use of Braille elements and international symbols of access are key to making ramps accessible to everyone.
All of the above factors combined with a low pile carpet, a slip-resistant surface and handrails are important features that make ramps both safer and easy to navigate through. You can also ask for feedback from any employees with disabilities to help make your workspace more accommodating and make the best choice.